Monday, November 22, 1999
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) announce a process for completing a fisheries co-management plan for the Flathead Lake and River system by October 2000. An advisory group will be assembled and will work along with FWP and CSKT from January through June to complete draft alternatives for the plan.
The process started last summer when Governor Marc Racicot and the late CSKT Chairman Michael Pablo issued an open letter on Flathead fisheries and hired the Montana Consensus Council to conduct an assessment of issues related to management of the fisheries. The Consensus Council's report is now available and outlines the range of issues and a suggested process for public involvement for the management plan. The Council interviewed more than 100 people interested in Flathead fisheries. The Council found these areas of agreement:
- Flathead Lake is one system, and a single management plan for the entire lake and river system is essential, regardless of management boundaries;
- Fisheries management should be adaptive, implementing management change in a stepwise fashion, and checking consequences along the way;
- A cooperative fisheries management plan must honor the management authority of both the State and Tribes;
- The plan will direct management that will maintain and preferably, enhance native fish species; maintain a viable recreation fishery in Flathead Lake; and include sound science and other ongoing management plans.
The report covers the broad range of issues surrounding the Flathead fisheries situation, and represents a comprehensive scoping of these interested members of the public. See attached for a one-page summary of the Consensus Council Report. The complete report is available at FWP offices in Kalispell and Missoula, CSKT offices in Pablo, County Libraries, the FWP Website (www.fwp.state.mt.us).
The Tribes and State met with the Consensus Council in September and have conferred over the past several months to produce joint management goals, a public advisory process design, and a timeline for completing the plan. The joint CSKT/FWP management goals and plan guidelines include:
- Recovery of the native species community in the lake and river while maintaining a viable recreational/subsistence fishery;
- Present a range of fisheries management alternatives for consideration and analyze their biological, economic and social impacts;
- The plan will be flexible, including research and monitoring of the fishery, and will guide management for a ten-year period, with regular checks and adjustments.
The Tribes and State have finalized the design for a public involvement process that will include advisors from a wide range of interest groups. Persons interested in Flathead Lake and River fisheries who would like to nominate themselves or others to serve on an advisory group should contact, by December 15, Co-management Plan Coordinators John Fraley of FWP at 752-5501 or Rich Janssen of CSKT at 675-2700. Advisors will meet about monthly for a six-month period beginning in January to produce fisheries management alternatives consistent with the joint co-management goals and guidelines outlined above. A draft plan will be brought before the State/Tribes Fish and Wildlife Board, and released to the public next summer, with adoption by the FWP Commission and CSKT Council anticipated by October 2000.
The Tribes and State have a solid history of working together on fish and wildlife management issues. The State/Tribal Fish and Wildlife Agreement was signed in 1990, and renewed in 1994 and 1998. The Flathead Reservation Fish and Wildlife Advisory Board involves technical and policy people from both entities and has operated well in setting joint fishing and bird hunting regulations on the Flathead Indian Reservation.